New Recruits Episode 2: Janice Lee Reads Dina Del Bucchia

Welcome to the 2nd episode of New Recruits! For details on what the hell this is and how it works, check out the description in Episode 1.

Janice and I met at the University of Toronto in a physiology course that I wasn’t really taking. She sends me 85% of the cute animals I view online. For a while, her name on Facebook was Janice Dolphin Lee, so when I say dolphin is her middle name, I’m only half lying. I chose this poem for her because it’s as cute/ruthless as she is and because it has a dolphin in it.

Here’s Janice reading the first little series in Dina Del Bucchia’s Coping with Emotions and Otters“How to Be Jealous.” You can follow along with her for some of the poem in the amazon preview here. This preview is missing the last two parts of the poem (and the rest of the book) so you’re going to have to get yourself a copy if you want to read the rest. Highly recommend to new recruits and old recruits alike.

Did I mention that her reading voice is angelic and I’m mega jealous of it?



What was your first impression of the poem?

I spent a good 15 minutes wondering how this was such a good fit for me. It’s like the author peeped into my life.

Which line of the poem do you like best?

‘before you/ realized these underwear/ would help you cling/ to a body/ you hated’


I totally resonated with that.

What does this poem make you think of?

Reminds me of my younger self’s struggle with self-love and how jealous I can be sometimes of a past-self or past-body rather. But also a lot of sadness for little-me for not understanding that I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. And then a realization that I don’t need to be so hard on myself now.

Are there any words in this poem that you don’t understand?


Would you like to understand them?

yAH – just googled it so I could pronounce it properly.

Have you encountered a poem like this before? Is this poem different from what you expected poetry to be like? If so, How?

Kind of reminds me of Rupi Kaur? It was much more accessible than what I usually expect of poetry. It also had a deep well of rich meaning when I sat with them. These poems were much more visceral than what I’ve read for school and I like that a lot.

Do you have any questions for the poet?

Did you know you were writing this for me? haha just kidding but is this how you owned your experience of jealousy? Because I’m thinking of following suit. Going to cover my work with golden stars.


Janice Lee is currently in Optometry school. She’s a borderline Capricorn-Aquarius and therefore a water goat, but more accurately any marine animal including DOLPHINS AND OTTERS. She likes painting and hearing people’s stories.

New Recruits Episode 1: Lesley Solomon Izsak Reads Susan Holbrook

This is the first episode of a series called New Recruits. Every week (or maybe every other week) for as long as I have willing participants, I will release a new episode in which a person who doesn’t normally read poetry will read a poem and answer some questions about it. These poetry newbs will mostly be my friends or members of my family, but if you are reading this and you consider yourself a poetry newb and we don’t know each other very well, feel free to send me an email and I’ll hook you up with some good words. I have chosen poems that I think are particularly suited to the reader featured each episode. Of course, these are poems that I love as well, but that’s only part of the equation.

I have also decided to include only contemporary (AKA living) poets in this series for a couple of reasons. First, because I want the poets to be able to join in on the fun. It’s cool to hear somebody else read and respond to your work, and dead poets don’t get to have that experience anymore. Most of my favourite poets are dead, but there are also plenty of great living ones who would probably get a kick out of knowing what new readers like about their poems. Also, this past summer, I taught Jamie Sharpe’s Animal Husbandry Today (poem from this book to be featured in a future episode) to a class of grade 12 students. I sent Jamie an email afterwards to tell him that my students loved his book and that one very enthusiastic young lad read his bio on the back cover and said out loud, “oh, this guy lives in bumfuck nowhere” (an excellent description of Yukon Territory). Jamie wrote me back, “I don’t think I encountered a living poet, taught in a classroom, until my second year of university. To me, back then, being a poet was just as anachronistic as blacksmithing (funny that one of our best living poets, Michael Earl Craig, is also a blacksmith).” I’m including living poets because they exist and because they’re writing cool shit and because poetry should always be news.

In this episode, my mother, Lesley, will read a poem from Susan Holbrook’s book Throaty Wipes, published by Coach House in 2016. I picked up Throaty Wipes from Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market a few weeks ago. I have several favourite poems in this book—one that stands out as particularly fun and innovative is “Better Blowing”— but for my mom I chose part two of a three part suite called “Disposable Thumbs.”

Here she is reading it:


Oh, and a quick note, my mom didn’t have any context for the poem (who wrote it or when). This won’t be the case for every episode, just how it went this time.

Q & A

Which line of the poem do you like best?

‘It fed her and could / now feed me’


I think because it captures the amazingness of this organ that is rarely thought about. It is our first food and the line makes me wonder what it must taste like.

What does this poem make you think of?

I think of polenta even though polenta is never mentioned in the poem; it is only in the title. I love polenta, it is comforting and warm and had the consistency of baby food. I think polenta could cure depression just as eating your placenta could cure post-partum depression. It also makes me think of freshly baked bread from the oven. The baby is the bread and the placenta is the polenta. Also, I think of the temporary-ness of the placenta. It works so hard for such a short time and then it is no longer needed. But it was crucial. It also makes me think of meat. And kale. It makes me think of foods, cake, nourishment, love, and all the messiness that goes along with that. The good and delicious and the messy and the ugly.

Are there any words in this poem that you don’t understand?

‘vol-au-vent,’ but I looked it up.

Would you like to understand them?

Oh. I already looked it up.

Do you have any questions for the poet?

Did he or she eat a placenta? What did it taste like if they did? Did it make them feel good? How do they really feel about Kale? Do they like polenta? What inspired the writing of the poem? What do they mean by ‘uncontrolled meat’? What is their ethnic background?



Lesley Solomon Izsak is a genetic counsellor at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. She has also been a teacher of dance. She likes animals and old things and she has never eaten placenta.